Science Target Conference Systems, Ajman 4th International Environment Conference 2016

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Shrimp Fry (meen) Farmers of Sundarban: A Tale of Ecological Damage and Economic Hardship
Pritha Das, Atin Das

Last modified: 2016-01-04


The Sundarban is a stretch of largely impenetrable mangrove forests lying at the southern tip of the Indian state of West Bengal, and stretching into Bangladesh. The tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) dominates shrimp culture because of its fast growth and adaptability. Instead of high earning from tiger shrimps, base level workers collecting the shrimps are facing toughest economic situation. They are engaged in meendhora (In local parlance meaning collection of prawn fry), fish drying and domestic work from a young age. Child labor is common in the administrative towns and fish landing centers in the Sundarban. Entire population involved in this occupation meet severe health problem due to long stay in saline water, prolonged muscular stress etc. Shrimp culture as practiced in the Sundarban also poses to be a threat to ecology. Mangrove loss is caused by shrimp farming. Shrimp fishing produces large amounts of bycatch (that is all catches other than target one), which is one of the most controversial aspects of the fishing. 'bycatch' is simply discarded, thus tiger prawn shrimp collection is one of the greatest threats to the Sundarban’s mangrove ecology. In this work, we concentrate on the issue of shrimp collectors of Sundarban through vast survey of literature. We find that in one hand, the population involved is under extreme poverty, subject to occupational health hazards and on the other hand, the ecology of the world heritage 'Sundarban' is threatened.